[JPL] “From the Plantation to the Penitentiary”

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 6 18:32:52 EST 2007

“From the Plantation
to the Penitentiary” 

(Blue Note) 

>From his landmark album “Black Codes (From the
Underground)” through his Pulitzer Prize-winning
oratorio “Blood on the Fields,” the trumpeter Wynton
Marsalis has always found avenues for social critique.
But his new quintet album delivers a fresh jolt to the
system, by blowing apart the refuge of allegory. Oh,
and he raps. But we’ll get to that.

Mr. Marsalis delegates most of the album’s vocal
duties to a remarkable newcomer, Jennifer Sanon.
Singing in a clarion tone with minimal vibrato, she
projects a timbre not unlike Mr. Marsalis’s trumpet,
carrying the album the way that Abbey Lincoln carried
Max Roach and Oscar Brown Jr.’s “Freedom Now Suite.”

But that was a cry for civil rights; what troubles Mr.
Marsalis is the state of civility itself. His lyrics
disparage a culture of heartless poverty, chic
misogyny and rapacious greed. He delivers the sharpest
jabs himself, quasi-rapping on a track called “Where
Y’All At?”:

All you ’60s radicals and world-beaters
Righteous revolutionaries, Camus-readers
Liberal students, equal-rights pleaders
What’s goin’ on now that y’all are the leaders?

Don’t be fooled: Mr. Marsalis still has no amicable
feelings for hip-hop, the genre his lyrics elsewhere
deride as “ghetto minstrelsy.” But while this album
builds on blues and jazz traditions — by way of a band
that has studiously conquered them — it also hungers
for relevance. 

“You got to speak the language the people are
speakin’,” barks Mr. Marsalis, “ ’Specially when you
see the havoc it’s wreakin’.” But he seems aware that
fighting fire with fire, in some cases, might only
fuel the flames. NATE CHINEN


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

Finding fabulous fares is fun.  
Let Yahoo! FareChase search your favorite travel sites to find flight and hotel bargains.

More information about the jazzproglist mailing list